We're Fat Club, comprising of MC Turroe and MC/Producer Mr Monk. We met and started recording together in 1989, but we always saw it as a hobby more than anything else, doing it for the love, hence shitloads of underground tapes over the years but no real releases. We only recently decided to put some time and effort into releasing our music, and people seem to be digging it, which is good. We were both born and bred in boogie down Bristol, and we're still here!
What is the Hip Hop scene there like?
The scene in Bristol has always been pretty healthy, and Bristol's always been seen as a 'hotbed' of talent by the 'media', a lot of people make it big coming out of Bristol, but it never seems to be the pure Hip Hop, it's always something that's watered down the sound. As for a pure Hip Hop scene, it fluctuates. a few years ago it was real good, everyone was networking, lots of events going on, but it seems to have quietened down. There are people of note if different areas doing different things, but it's fractured. We're trying to do something about that, putting on a night called 'Pass The Mic', showcasing talent with live PA's and freestyle comps, trying to get a bit of that Hip Hop community spirit back again...
Can you break down some of the history of Hip Hop where you are from back in the day? What I mean is who were the local heads who were performing, putting on shows and setting up pirate radio stations? Who influenced you and made you think, yeah we can do this? Things like who was the first guy from your area to put out a Hip Hop record?
It's Bristol mate, there was really only one bunch of guys that started it all.... the Wild Bunch! I remember being at school and trading Wild Bunch tapes, they were like gold dust! Rock On 85 was my personal favourite, they used to put house parties on in St Pauls, they played outside of shops in the city centre. The rest is history, they went on to form Massive Attack. Then you had the likes of Fresh Four, Smith & Mighty, 3PM... The first proper Bristol 12 I ever bought was Smith & Mighty's 'Anyone', with Kelz, Chrissy Chris & Lynx... that bassline still drops to this day.
Since those early days, how has the scene developed over the years? Who are the acts that have come and gone and apart from yourselves, who is prevailing and building a bit of a following?
You got the people like Kelz who are like Stonehenge, they're still there doing their things. The new generation were crews like Undivided Attention, Parlour Talk, Aspects, all still doing their thing at different levels, some under different names. Of course Aspects are the high flyers at the moment, good luck to them, they represent a whole style of their own. Prominent people right now.... All Creatures, Sir Plus, Sir Beans' Wordsworth Surgery... there are too many to mention! If everyone actually got together it would be wicked. Fight the Apathy!
How would you describe yourself and how did you come by your name?
We're just Fat Club. I don't think we sound like anyone else because we don't let other things we hear influence us... we just do what we do and hope people like it. If you don't, who gives a fuck! We like big, heavy breaks, battle lyrics, a lot of people say we're funny as well, but don't pigeon us with fucking GLC! We also like to try and rap about stuff that's out of the ordinary, but close to home. Stuff you can relate to. We do all sorts.
How did we get our name?
A few years ago we used to get together on a Saturday afternoon with Junior Disprol to record (that turned into the 'Worth the Weight' LP, just a collection of demo's really), and as we're all a little rounded we called it Fat Club.
Are you affiliated with any other crews and are you working with any young cats you are hoping to bring through? Who should we look out for?
Not really affiliated with anyone, although we do hook up with people through socialising, and we're always up for a collab. Working with the Headcase Ladz at the moment for a release next year. Miracle mouth Monkey Moo from Aspects is on our album as we know them quiet well. Junior Disprol was on 'Worth the Weight' with us, and he's on our next release 'Mixtape Culture', as is Rola from Numskullz. Hopefully there will be a few more surprises on there as well.
Describe for us your production and recording set up. What equipment do you have? And how do you use it? Would it be a matter of getting samples and sequences together on your home equipment and making demos, which you would then take to a professional studio to record and mix down on a multi track?
Up until 6 months ago we used to do all our beats on a laptop and then take it to the studio to drop the lyrics and mix it down. However, since then we've built our own studio... nothing mega flashy, but it does the job. Pro Tools on the Mac, Digi 002 Pro Tools Desk, Alesis M1 Monitors, Rode NT2000 mic. And the Technics.... never forget the Technics!!
So talk us through your recording career so far. Have you had any records out in the past or collaborated with other artists?
As we said before, we put out lots of stuff on tape & limited edition CD, Turroe's 'Shitstarter' being the most prominent. Last year we put out 'Worth the Weight' on vinyl, 10 tracks of stuff we did with Junior Disprol. Our new album, 'Venomous Tongues' is out now, 19 tracks of pure venom! Ha ha ha. Turroe has done a load of collabs in the past, most recently 'Brink of Extinction' on sir Beans OBE's 'Ear Infection' EP.
What sort of a response do you get from the rest of the country, and are there regional differences you can discern? Are there any reasons for this?
We rap with proper full on Bristol accents, 'cause that's where we're from. I think regional differences are becoming a lot more acceptable these days. We get a lot of love from the rest of the country, as people from Wales, the Midlands, Scotland, Down South... we're all in the same boat, trying to get people to accept us as we are. The only place we don't really get any respect from is London, basically because the whole London scene seems to be wrapped up in this 'Ya Get Me' rubbish, I mean how many times can you rap about being brought up on an estate and robbing people? I grew up on an estate, I don't feel I have to tell everyone about it though. Just my personal opinion!
Who are your influences? What is it about them you like?
We have very few people we'd class as 'influences'. We just listen to everything that comes out and what we like we like. personally i will name one person... Slug from Atmosphere for his live shows.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Everything! I'm partial to the Rhymesayers stuff, Eyedea & Abilities, Brother Ali... Love Ironbridge, they're raw as fuck. Like some of the tracks on the new Skinnyman album, for production rather than content, but then again that's just down to personal taste. Turroe loves the US horror-core stuff like Nonphixion, Mr Hyde, then again we listen to the more mainstream stuff too, love Redman, Methodman, etc. Just now hearing all the Headcase Ladz back catalogue.... Turroe is 'educating' me.... they crack me up.
How long have you been involved in music?
I started mixing in 85, moved on to recording around 88, teamed up with a very young Turroe in 89 when he first started rapping.
So, when did you first move to become a Hip Hop practitioner, rather than consumer? What elements did you toy with? Was it straight MCing from day 1?
As above, me in 85, Turroe in 89, although I never started rapping until around 89 myself. To be honest though, it wasn't until like a year ago that I really started practicing. At this level it's relatively new to me.
How do you feel about the current state of UK Hip Hop? Do you object to being categorised in this way?
We'd all like to think that Hip Hop is just Hip Hop, but sadly it's not like that. I remember when if you were into Hip Hop you listened to loads of different bands and styles, but they were all accepted as the same thing. now the scene and the music has fractured, there are all these different styles, and no one seems to be willing to cross divides. It's sad really, UK Hip Hop heads hate on US mainstream stuff, Grimey cats hate on more 'classic' style UK stuff, and everyone hates on back-backers! It's a fucking mess. Yes we object to being labelled, we ought to be a little more open minded, but then again I'm guilty myself to a certain extent... there's no easy answer.
Do you think it is getting better or worse and why?
It's defo getting worse, as more variations of Hip Hop appear, more barriers go up, but you can't stop the music moving forward.... maybe this fractioning is healthier than the music becoming stilted and boring.
Who are the UK artists you listen to and admire?
Numskullz, Sir Beans OBE, Junior Disprol, Aspects, Rodney P, All Creatures, The Nextmen, Ironbridge, Headcase Ladz & the rest of the Wonky Wax guys, Beefeaterz...
When's your new album out and what will be on it?
Our current album 'Venomous Tongues' Is out now, we're working on our next release now... it's a little different; basically we've recorded another albums worth of stuff since VT, so we're going to release it as a mixtape, cut up all the tracks and mix them with guest spots from other artists, fingers crossed it will come out with a DVD featuring live sets and our new video 'Decrease the Peace'.
What did you aim to achieve with the record and do you feel you did
2000 & Beyond